The Improvement in the Situation for Black People in the USA by 1900

912 Words4 Pages
The Improvement in the Situation for Black People in the USA by 1900

The situation for black people in America underwent a huge improvement

after their emancipation, but by 1900, due to segregation laws and

discrimination in general, life was still very difficult for black

people. A common black American saying, ‘We ain’t what we ought to be,

we ain’t what we going to be. But thank God we ain’t what we used to

be.’, was how they summed up the situation for themselves. By 1900,

the black people of America had many more opportunities than pre-1865,

but there was still a long way to go before they gained equality with

whites. They had poor jobs, poor pay and were generally treated as

some kind of a subspecies by whites.

On the positive side, black people were no longer slaves to white

people. In 1865, after president Lincoln’s death and the end of the

civil war, slavery was abolished. The former slaves now had the

freedom to travel, and therefore to find work, and to set up a home.

In the South, radical Republicans had given blacks equal voting rights

to whites; this ensured that the newly enfranchised blacks would vote

for Lincoln’s Republican Party. In the North blacks had legal and

political equality; they could all vote. The right to vote is often

thought of as the badge of citizenship; 700,000 black men in the South

wore this badge after the end of the Civil War, which gave them some

representation (which they had never previously experienced). In 1868,

former black male slaves officially became US citizens through the

Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution; this meant that they, and

everybody else in America, had equality before the law. The Fifteenth

Amendment to the Constitution in 1870 went even further, officially

specifying that the right to vote ‘shall not be denied... On account

of race, colour or previous condition of servitude.’

Education was also available to improve the situation for blacks. In

southern America, Black churches and the federal Freedmen’s Bureau

(1865-1872) made this possible; some colleges of higher education
Open Document